In her ongoing exploration of The Problem with Parents These Days, Judith Warner wrote about the deadly new trend of Helicopter Parenting. Uh-huh.
If there's a crisis in modern parenting, maybe it's that we lack context and historical perspective. I've been poking around the NY Times' recently opened archives, and the parenting trend stories of 15 and 20 years ago sound like they could've been published yesterday. How many of the head-scratchingest aspects of kid life are the arbitrary artifacts of media hype? Supermom, Mr. Mom, hipster parents. Would we worry about Grups and Mini-Me's if they were still called Peter Pan Syndrome? And what about the corporate factor? How much of the stuff we supposedly need was created solely to extract as much money as possible from the wallets of anxious parents-to-be? Crib bumpers, I'm looking at you.
Here's a quote from " All About/Baby Products; Smaller Families Perhaps, but So Much More to Buy," which ran in the NY Times 16 years ago this week":
"The business has grown dramatically, not just because of the number of births, but because of the amount of new products," said Shirley Pepys, the [Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association] president and also president of Noel Joanna Inc., a maker of children's bedding and accessories based in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. "New parents are open to anything and if you told them they needed 150 new products, they'd probably buy them."Also, did you know that Safety 1st was founded in 1984 by the "Baby On Board" car sign guy?
Style plays a bigger role than ever in baby products, but so does safety, industry leaders say. And while 30-something parents [heh. -ed.] are skeptical of gimmicks, they are looking for innovative products that can make life easier for working parents. Many of these products come from new companies formed by parents turned entrepreneurs.
"It's very important how you decorate your nursery and a lot of money is spent on decorating that room," said Ms. Pepys of Noel Joanna, which sells wildly colored and patterned sheets, quilts and matching lamps.
Fashion baby bedding "is a huge business in the United States that came out of nowhere," said John Moeller, president of the Simmons Juvenile Products Company in New London, Wisc., which added bedding to its line of cribs recently.